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Saturday, September 18, 2010

How Safe is your Condo?

When you buy a condo, you expect it to be safe right?

You expect everything to be built properly, that it isn't going to fall apart or suddenly become a dangerous death trap.

Recently a pane of glass shattered and rained to the ground from the 31st floor of the Murano building at 37 Grosvenor St. in downtown Toronto. It was the second time in the past week that glass panels from the building had broken and nearly hit people below.

The falling glass did not cause any injuries from falling approx. 100 meters. The condo tower had been inspired by the legendary Murano glassworks of Italy.

The owner of the condo in question didn't even know the glass had suddenly shattered. They simply noticed the breeze and was confused by how the glass had disappeared.

Some of the glass hit the balconies of residents below. If someone had been outside enjoying the weather they could have been hit with little warning.

“I looked out my window and there were little pieces of glass all over my balcony,” said one resident who described the noise as sounding like crashing marble. “I was kind of annoyed.”

“It’s not safe. Somebody could be down (there) and a big piece of glass could fall on them.”

On ground level a lawn-care worker with Lawn 911 vacuumed chunks of glass from the grounds near the corner of Grosvenor St. and Bay St. The panel had been approx. 1.2 metres tall and a metre wide.

They believe the wind rattled the window and shattered it. The fact this has happened twice in the past week suggests the windows were either cheaply made or weren't installed properly.

The property manager says engineers are working to see how and why the two panes shattered. The manager is planning to test every panel (which is wise because the last thing they need is a lawsuit from someone being injured).

The panels were made of tempered glass, which is usually stronger than regular glass and is supposed to shatter into small fragments instead of shards when broken. This one appears to have shattered into shards suggesting it wasn't tempered properly.

Nevertheless this makes me think... what else could go wrong in faulty condo construction?

Faulty elevator.

Faulty fire alarms.

Faulty smoke detectors.

Faulty water sprinklers.

Faulty electrical wiring.

Old asbestos that was never removed.

Structural supports failing.

Stone or concrete breaking from higher floors.

Lack of earthquake reinforcement.

But at the same time it should be noted that regular houses (faulty construction or renovations) could be just as dangerous, or even more dangerous because many houses are not subject to regular maintenance, repairs or safety checks.

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